Although this won’t post till Monday, I’m writing this Friday to celebrate a great finish to the first two weeks of MDIV classes. I sat in on most of the Cultural Contexts of Ministry course today. I was very happy at the camaraderie and depth of insight going on. I was sorry I hadn’t been in on the course more during the week.
The teacher was Dr. Norm Wilson, who was excellent for the course. This morning, he could hardly even get into the discussion of Philip Jenkins’ The Next Christendom because they were all so riled up over an article in Christianity Today from a few weeks back, “Power Pentecostalisms.” With Norm a former missionary in Latin America and Jim Eckhardt a current missionary in Nicaragua, they skewered this seemingly typical CT article (Wesleyans and younger evangelicals might read CT with a critcal eye).
The degree of paradigm shift this week was apparently so great for some that Dr. Norm felt the need to talk about how you introduce change into a local church–slowly and relationally. My personal philosophy here is twofold: 1) you cannot force a person to change anyway (Dale Carnegie’s, “A man [sic] convinced against his will is of the same mind still”) and 2) God is in control. So when you are introducing new ideas, the focus is on freeing another person to choose.
If a person only knows one option, they are in a real sense a slave to that option. By exposing people to other options, you are freeing them, even if they remain the same. But you are also facilitating change if they and the Spirit so move. And when I am truly convinced that the change is the right thing, then I should be confident that those “with ears to hear” will in fact make those changes without me forcing the issue, if I have set out the new idea clearly.
Thank you, LORD, for such immense grace in this most excellent start to the seminary!